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Tavern Table Renovation

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Project by Smitty_Cabinetshop posted 1230 days ago 3598 views 3 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Tavern Table Renovation
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It was twenty years ago that the tavern table (poker table, card table, pocket table) shown in the picture above was pulled out of an alley shed set for destruction. Long (early part of this) story short, the top had come apart at the glue joints and was black from the ravages of time and exposure to the elements. I pulled out the table and brought it to my dad’s nearby shop, where I cleaned and sanded the pieces of the top as best I could at the time. I glued it up and clamped it tight, then left the project for a later time. Kudos to my ever-so-patient father for moving it and saving it for the next 18 years, otherwise the story would have ended there.

Fast forward to a time two years ago. I now have a shop and my slide into hand tools has begun as the build of my Roubo workbench is underway. I need something to set the one piece oak slab of my to-be bench onto as I plane away on it with a Sandusky wooden jack. Yes, I claimed the table and used it’s base to set my bench slab on as it got worked up. The table top, over the ensuing months, became a guinea pig for every ‘new’ piece of iron that came in the mail. I practiced traversing, smoothing, jointing and scraping on that bad boy, sad to say, in no particular order. But it did get progressively smoother, and the charcoal gray wood pealed back to reveal a pretty respectable white oak surface.

This spring I needed to make room for a lumber (stuff!) buy and that meant finishing the table to get it ready for sale. Here’s a shot of the inside of the table’s aprons and legs assembly when it came apart. I did this so the legs could be jointed / cleaned up prior to final assembly and finishing.

Here are the legs before re-work.

And a close-up as to why I did what I did to the legs rather than simply stripping them and refinishing.

The jointer was my vintage Craftsman planer/jointer, not a #7 or #8… I love hand planes, but I’m not crazy. Once the tailed apprentice was done with the heavy lifting, I did do some final smoothing. Here it is after assembly, and how I initially intended to list it for sale (final finish up to the buyer).


Then my dad told me he still had a third pocket from the table at his place, and pieces of the fourth and final pocket. About this time the table was destined for my brother-in-law and I was applying final finish myself. I made the missing pieces for the fourth pocket.

I purposely left some character to the top – this table has seen a lot of action (and neglect) in it’s day and deserves the right to retain a few battle scars. It also helps the piece retain an authentic character that can’t be reproduced. It is again seeing action as a card table!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive





16 comments so far

View RWJones's profile

RWJones

127 posts in 1503 days


#1 posted 1229 days ago

Wow, nice work on saving this piece. My favorite photo is the one that shows the bottom, with it full character showing.

View MasterSergeant's profile

MasterSergeant

1284 posts in 1314 days


#2 posted 1229 days ago

Absolutely the best story and nicest finish. Thanks for sharing.

-- Kelly, woodworker under construction

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1319 days


#3 posted 1229 days ago

I am SOOOO pumped about this resto. There’s nothing cooler in the World. I’m so jealous that you had the opportunity to save this beauty.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View kiefer's profile

kiefer

3030 posts in 1293 days


#4 posted 1229 days ago

please explain the trays at the corners
i would like to know the purpose i realy like that look
great story and restoration
i am glad you did it

thanks

kiefer

-- Kiefer 松

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9762 posts in 1245 days


#5 posted 1229 days ago

@kiefer and everyone else – Thanks for the feedback! About the pockets, they hang under each corner of the table so drinks aren’t in the way of the cards. And the table stays dry. Pretty good idea. These used to be common around the area years ago, less so now.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View kiefer's profile

kiefer

3030 posts in 1293 days


#6 posted 1229 days ago

thanks makes sence
good detail even today

kiefer

-- Kiefer 松

View mafe's profile (online now)

mafe

9486 posts in 1715 days


#7 posted 1229 days ago

Hi,
That is a wonderful table you have restored and a wonderful job done.
I never vseen these drink shelfs before, and think also it’s really a cool idea.
Best thoughts,
MaFe

-- Mad F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View woodcut's profile

woodcut

152 posts in 1308 days


#8 posted 1228 days ago

Very cool restore! I’ve some old planks looking for a new purpose, do you mind if I copy your table? What are the dimensions? What finish did you use?
Thanks!
c

-- Carl, Iowa

View RGtools's profile

RGtools

3302 posts in 1281 days


#9 posted 1228 days ago

This is a great restore.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9762 posts in 1245 days


#10 posted 1228 days ago

@mafe – Thanks! We’re very thirsty folks in this area, and we play lots of cards (Euchre) so this kind of table used to be in all the taverns. Longneck bottles are too tall for the pockets, but a mixed drink or can obviously fits fine.

@woodcut – Of course I don’t mind! I’ll measure it as soon as I can, but in the meantime I can provide specifics for another I do have. I’ll take a couple pics of that one (same thing, only with turned legs instead of square and maple vs. oak construction), take some key measurements and post everything to my blog in that it’s not really a project. Stay tuned, hopefully within the next week or so for either or maybe both.

Finish was nothing special. Minwax Early American and Minwax wipe-on poly.

It’s cool to think tavern tables might be springing up all over as a result of this post. :-)

@RG – Thanks!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3877 posts in 955 days


#11 posted 855 days ago

resurecting your thread to tip my hat to a fellow midwesterner who plays Euchre… (let alone anyone who knows wat Euchre is)...

and for “going it alone” on your table re-build/save…

love the drink holders…. they took their cards (and beer) seriously back then. I’ll bet they were sized to perfectly fit the house steins.

I wonder if the skirts were extended to prevent passing cards :^)

And if the drink holders helped prevent “table talk” via. how you set your stein down….

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9762 posts in 1245 days


#12 posted 855 days ago

Hello, Vet! The table can’t handle six handed or eight handed bid, of course, but for straight up game it’s great. And now that you resurrected, I see there’s a promise of measurements I haven’t fullfilled… hmmm…. I’ll get on that.

I have another of these that’s all maple, and two oposing corners were painted black, about a 6”x6” patch… The players used chalk in those squares to keep score (using the ‘wagon wheel’ method, of course). Ingenious…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View vakman's profile

vakman

301 posts in 1030 days


#13 posted 651 days ago

Excellent restoration, and for a great cause! A place to drink and shoot dice and the shit, with friends and family. I’d never seen a tavern table with the lower cup holders, it’s a great idea, which you’ve continued our knowledge of. Thanks!

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9762 posts in 1245 days


#14 posted 630 days ago

Finally remembered to get pictures of the other table I have. Maple top, all original, with black squares painted at opposing corners so card games (Eurchre) could be scored with chalk.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View DustyInOhio's profile

DustyInOhio

32 posts in 99 days


#15 posted 84 days ago

Great table!!! I might have to try my hand at something similar for card/ dart night in my basement. Im a huge fan of salvaging old furniture….well done.

-- Ryan, "The things i make may be for others, but how i make them is for me"-unkown

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